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Evaluating the therapeutic effects of museum object handling with hospital patients: A review and initial trial of well-being measures

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Arts therapy interventions within health care produce positive outcomes for patients, staff and carers, though little rigorous evaluation of these activities is conducted using clinically accepted measures. Similarly, heritage-specific therapeutic interventions offer comparable potential to increase well-being. Although museums and galleries have significant capacity to contribute to health and social care, widespread implementation is impeded by lack of robust clinical data quantifying the impact of such interventions. Measurement scales for psychological well-being, quality of life and health status were reviewed for their suitability to evaluate well-being in hospital patients before and after 30-minute museum object handling sessions. Measures were short-listed using selection criteria of internal and external validity, practicality and sensitivity. Focus on usage in health care, breadth of application, ease of administration and degree of responsiveness informed the choice of optimum measures for preliminary research with female oncology patients (n=40). Findings indicated effectiveness of selected measures (Positive Affect Negative Affect Scale; PANAS and Visual Analogue Scale; VAS) for heritage-specific interventions.
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Keywords: health care; intervention; museum object; oncology; therapy; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University College London

Publication date: April 8, 2011

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  • The Journal of Applied Arts and Health serves a wide community of artists, researchers, practitioners and policy-makers evidencing the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary use of arts in health and arts for health. It provides a forum for the publication and debate within an interdisciplinary field of arts in healthcare and health promotion. The journal defines 'health' broadly which includes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, occupational, social and community health.
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